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Dog DNA testing company settles lawsuit

A Spokane company that provides genetic testing of dogs has settled a lawsuit against a Michigan firm over DNA test services.

The suit is one of three filed by Paw Print Genetics, each arguing that tests based on naturally occurring DNA linked to canine diseases cannot be patented and should remain in the public domain.

The settlement allows Paw Print to start using a DNA test targeted toward finding von Willebrand disease, associated with abnormal blood clotting in dogs.

The federal lawsuit challenged claims by Michigan-based VetGen that Paw Print’s own DNA test to identify that blood disorder infringed on VetGen’s patents.

CEO Lisa Shaffer launched Paw Print in 2013. The settlement allows the private company to begin its own von Willebrand tests next month, she said.

The settlement was confidential and terms could not be disclosed, Shaffer said.

Shaffer previously was CEO and co-founder of Signature Genomics, which developed DNA-based prenatal and pediatric tests.

The von Willebrand condition makes certain breeds, including Shetland sheepdogs, Scottish terriers and Kooikerhondjue, more likely to develop blood clotting. Testing is critical for breeders to prevent the mutation being transmitted to offspring.

The two remaining Paw Print lawsuits also take the same position, that earlier Supreme Court rulings establish that patents covering DNA tests that rely on “natural laws or natural phenomena” are invalid.

One of those suits filed by Paw Print asks the court to invalidate a patent filed by Canine EIC Genetics, LLC, a company based in Minnesota. That patent is for a DNA test for a genetic disorder known as exercise-induced collapse, or EIC.

That condition, typically associated with Labrador retrievers, leads to problems of coordination and potential loss of control of the hind legs. Dogs affected with EIC usually cannot continue with intense strenuous exercise but may live normal lives as house pets.

Genetic testing for EIC is considered the best way for breeders to identify service or working dogs whose work will require strenuous exercise.

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